The park’s new name is that of the former president of Friends of West 11th Street Park, who played a key role in the late 1990s and early 2000s in preserving the park and getting the city of Houston to purchase the land from HISD.
“The Parks Department is pleased to honor the memory of this outstanding Houstonian with the renaming of the park,” said Kenneth Allen, the interim director for Houston Parks and Recreation, in a news release.
In 1998, HISD began discussing using the land to create a campus for the High School for Performing and Visual Arts. This led Cherry and a group of people to coordinate with local community and government leaders to preserve the park.
After creating a petition that garnered signatures from 90% of the homes in Timbergrove in favor of preservation, the city of Houston agreed to a five-year lease with HISD to maintain and operate the property as a park.
In 2005, HISD decided to sell the property to the highest bidder, when once again Cherry got involved in preserving the land, which led to the formation of Friends of West 11th Street Park. She was president of that group until she died in 2017.
“Lorraine’s passion and dedication to West 11th Street Park inspired me to pursue state funding to purchase the remainder of the property and end the cliffhanger over the park’s future,” state Sen. John Whitmire said in a news release.
Sen. Whitmire helped get a $3.75 million matching grant to fully fund the purchase after the city of Houston initially purchased the property with a bridge loan in February 2007.
“At any time the deal could have fallen through,” said Robert Delgado, a board member of Friends of West 11th Street Park, in the release. “Lorraine was the glue at several crucial points that held it all together.”
The 20-acre park can be found on West 11th Street in the Houston Heights between T C Jester and Ella boulevards. The wooded park features two acres of wetland areas, several trails and 38 species of native trees, according to the Friends of West 11th Street Park website.